3 Life-Saving Study Strategies For Finals

3 Life-Saving Study Strategies For Finals

You can ace these tests!
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Finals are stressful, and not just because they cover six month's work of material we have to study all over again, but because some of us have no idea how to review that much with a limited amount of time. The best way to overcome that hurdle is by using these three easy strategies to help memorize and master everything you need to study for finals!

1. Immerse your subconscious by surrounding yourself with whatever needs to be memorized.

Now I'm not saying decal the textbook world map onto your living room walls, but I am saying put it on your wall — preferably in the form of taped printer paper. Tape sheets of the world map on the wall in your bedroom, your bathroom and any other place in the house you stay in. Put it as your computer desktop background, your cellphone background and whatever else you stare at most of the time. Take a two minute glance at it every morning, in between breaks, before and after meals and before you go to sleep. Get yourself into the habit of staring at the world map, and by the end of a week or so, you will have it memorized.

Overexposing yourself to whatever you need to memorize — whether it's a world map or periodic table — will help your subconscious to internalize the information with half the usual effort. It's like a physical mind map and works just as effectively.

2. Divert from your practices and determine your learning style, even if you think you already know it.

Studying is exhausting, and what's even more frustrating is not being able to fully remember certain concepts you know you went over at least a dozen times or blanking out in the middle of an exam when trying to run through the list of formulas stashed somewhere in your mind. Unfortunately, repetitive memorization seldom works, unless that's your learning style.

Everyone has a different learning style — whether it's auditory, visual, linguistic or kinesthetic. A lot of people associate "studying" with "linguistics," whenever they reread chapters and notes. While most people fall into more than one of those categories, it's interesting to note that 65 percent of people on average are visual learners, but 80 percent of teaching instruction is delivered orally when only 10 percent of the population consists of auditory learners.

To study effectively, determine your learning style right now by taking this quick quiz.

3. Avert your attention to master the art of guesstimation.

There are three ways of guessing: random, educated guessing and meta-guessing.

Random guessing is self-explanatory: pick whatever answer your gut tells you is correct and move on.

Educated guessing is the better option because you use what you already know to narrow down answers. With this method, try rephrasing sentences in your head or on paper. You can narrow down your choices by paying special attention to the terminology used, like:

– If two choices essentially say the same thing, ignore them both and choose something else.

Avoid absolutes, such as answers with the words "all," "very," or "none."

Eliminate extreme answers that look totally different from the rest of the answers provided.

Match keywords in the question with keywords in the answers.

Find answers to one question by looking at another question on the test that has that information.

And so forth. If you'd like to see the full list of tips, check out this website.

Meta-guessing is more analytical, and thus, has a higher chance of actually being the right answer. This form of guessing puts you into the minds of test-creators and over time, you become familiar with the way certain test questions are formatted.

Here's how:

1. Don't look at the question — only look at the answers. For instance, say your answer choices are:

A.) -5

B.) -10/3

C.) -7/3

D.) 5/3

E.) 5

2. Eliminate the answer that appears to be an outlier compared to other answers. In the example above, that outlier is -7/3. Why? Because all the other answers are divisible by five.

3. Narrow down your choices by picking out what's obvious. Nearly all of the answer choices above have three as their denominator. What's the point of including so many answers with three as the denominator unless the correct answer has three in the denominator? This leaves either -10/3 or 5/3 as the answer.

4. But don't overthink it. The correct answer would be 5/3, because "there is a choice of 5 which I would assume is there for students who forgot to divide by 3," but the designers of the test are smart. They anticipate students may adopt this train, so "the actual answer is -10/3."

At the end of the day, guesstimating should only be used rarely, as needed, and most of the answers should come from memorization and practice. So surround yourself with learning material, determine your learning style and study hard to ace your finals!

Cover Image Credit: iStock

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7 Truths About Being A Science Major

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Whether your major is Human Bio, Chemistry, Neuroscience or any other that deals with a lot of numbers, theories, experiments and impossibly memorizing facts, you know the pressures of pursuing a career in this field. So without further ado, here are seven truths about being a science major:

1. There is no “syllabus week.”

Coming back to college in the fall is one of the best times of the year. Welcome week has become most students' favorite on-campus holiday. But then you have syllabus week: another widely celebrated week of no responsibilities… Unless you’re a science major that is. While your other friends get to enjoy this week of getting to know their professors and class expectations, you get to learn about IUPAC nomenclature of alkanes on the first day of organic chem.

2. Your heart breaks every time you have to buy a new textbook.

Somehow every professor seems to have their own “special edition” textbook for class… And somehow it’s always a couple hundred bucks… And somehow, it's ALWAYS required.

3. Hearing "attendance is not mandatory," but knowing attendance is VERY mandatory.

Your professor will tell you that they don’t take attendance. Your professor will put all lecture slides online. Your professor will even record their lectures and make those available as well. Yet if you still don’t go to class, you’ll fail for sure. Coming into lecture after missing just one day feels like everyone has learned an entire new language.

4. You’re never the smartest person in your class anymore.

No matter what subject, what class or what concentration, there will always be someone who is just that much better at it than you.

5. You get totally geeked out when you learn an awesome new fact.

Today in genetics you learned about mosaicism. The fact that somebody can have a disease in part of their total body cells but normal throughout all others gets you so hype. Even though you know that your family, friends and neighbors don’t actually care about your science facts, you HAVE to tell them all anyways.

6. There is never enough time in a day.

You are always stuck choosing between studying, eating, sleeping and having fun. If you're lucky, you'll get three of these done in one day. But if you're a risk taker, you can try to do all of these at once.

7. You question your major (and your sanity) almost daily.

This is especially true when it’s on a Tuesday night and you’ve already consumed a gallon of Starbucks trying to learn everything possible before your . Or maybe this is more prevalent when you have only made it through about half of the BioChem chapter and you have to leave for your three hour lab before your exam this afternoon. Regardless, you constantly wonder if all the stress is actually worth it, but somehow always decide that it is.

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How I Escaped My Hoarding Tendencies

I was once a hoarder.

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Up until my third year of college, I kept everything. I had notes, homework, and tests from all of my classes starting in kindergarten, all the way until my college years. My walls were filled with photos, art, birthday and thank-you cards, plane and movie tickets, receipts, and even interesting shopping bags I'd collected over the years. Drawers were stuffed with random pieces of toys with which I felt strong emotional connections. I still kept clothes from elementary school that I certainly could not wear anymore, but for some reason felt that I needed to keep.

Despite being a hoarder, I was still quite organized. My room, usually messy, was relatively well-organized. However, during college, something for me changed. I was suddenly annoyed with all of the things I had kept over the years, and wanted a clean slate. I tore everything down from my walls, pulled out all the clothes in my closet, and decided to start over.

This whole adventure of me decluttering my room took three full days, dozens of trash bags full of items to donate, and so much excess emotional garbage. When I was finally finished, I felt so much emotional relief. While I really enjoyed sifting through every piece of paper that I had written, every exam I had taken, every toy and card that had been gifted to me, and all the clothes that no longer fit me, I was happy to finally be finished. My head hurt from the nostalgia, but I slept incredibly well that night.

Since then, I've learned how to live on a minimal amount of stuff. My room is usually tidy and I've found cleaning and organizing to be addicting and cathartic. I now keep only things with which I have strong emotional connections, like the bracelet my now-deceased grandmother gave me and the farewell letters written by my friends before I moved away for graduate school.

With fewer concrete memorabilia stowed away, I can cherish the memories that mean the most to me and focus on identifying the memories happening in the present that I want to remember forever.

Tidying up also helped me achieve a lot of my career goals in life. I don't think this success would have been possible if I had been disorganized and distracted by the past that cluttered my room.

With all of that said, I still have a long ways to go in terms of tidying my life. My work life is definitely not as organized as my home life. My desk and computer files are not organized in the best way, but I hope to implement my personal life philosophy into my work life in the future. My social and familial life are also quite disorganized. After moving to a new city, I found the initial socializing to be overwhelming and struggled to prioritize the people I wanted to spend time with. However, I am slowly working to improve this balance of my social and familial life.

While I am still on this journey, I wanted to share the impact that decluttering has had on my so far and hope that this would inspire you to identify things you can declutter in your own life.

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